I have to confess that I started the Marple Marathon (or should it be called a “Marplethon”?) early. It was about 11:30 p.m. on the eve of the 15th when I actually started the first book. I hope you won’t hassle me over a half an hour. I wanted to read a little bit before sleep and was between books. It just made sense to get started on the Marple book.
The Tuesday Club Murders by Agatha Christie
The Tuesday Club Murders is a collection of 13 short stories featuring Miss Jane Marple. The overall format for each story (except one) is the same. A group of people gather socially and decide to play amateur sleuth together. In turn, they each tell a story about a mystery to which they know the outcome. Then each of the others puts forth a theory based on their own personal experience. It is Miss Marple, with her intimate knowledge of village life and human nature, who always solves the mystery, earning her the esteem of the former head of Scotland Yard. Within that framework, Christie manages to keep the stories fresh and different from one another, no small feat…
I think the fun in these stories is not just in guessing whodunit, but also in the way Miss Marple arrives at the correct answer. She always tells a story about something that happened in the village, using it as a parallel to the mystery at hand. Another enjoyable element is the occasional pun, which Christie sometimes points out for you, just in case you overlooked her wittiness.
No one writes mysteries like these anymore. They are delightfully outdated. There’s no bosomy CSI-type doctor to analyze microscopic bits of evidence, no alcoholic policeman with an attitude problem. Even the language is old-fashioned and, of course, very British.
Here are some of the terms I had never seen before.
banting: an archaic term for dieting, but not named after Sir Frederick Grant Banting, one of the doctors who discovered insulin, but rather William Banting, a 19th-century cabinetmaker.
Camorra: a secret Italian society, formed around 1820, which was known for violence and blackmail.
clock golf: a type of golf in which one putts from positions arranged in a circle around the hole.
hundreds and thousands: “Those little pink and white sugar things,” as Miss Marple describes them, that are used to decorate desserts.
Mechlin lace: the type of lace on the bodice of Miss Marple’s dress in “The Tuesday Night Club.” It is named after Mechlin, a town in Belgium, where it was originally made. Wikipedia has pictures of examples of Mechlin lace.
S.A.: sex appeal.
Whit Monday: in the Christian calendar, the day after Pentecost (a feast that takes place 49 days after Easter).
With 13 of the 36 Marple stories already finished, I am concernd that this marathon will be too easy. But no worries. If that should turn out to be the case, I’ll find a way to stretch it out.